I am an editor and publisher by profession. Reviewing and honing other people’s writing is what I do during most of my working hours. Writing, however, is my first love. Well, second only to reading, I suppose. Because you cannot write without being stirred by a deep love for reading. Many of us started writing at a young age to see if we could recreate the magic of our most beloved writers. For me, the magic lay in the Gothic writing of the Bronte sisters, Edgar Allen Poe, and Wilkie Collins, the tragi-comic bildungsromans of Dickens, and the despairing, gritty sagas of Hardy. I tried to emulate them as best as I could and hated every single piece of writing I came up with. I was in my teens then, and this was the best introduction I could have had to the importance of developing one’s own voice.

Many of us started writing at a young age to see if we could recreate the magic of our most beloved writers. For me, the magic lay in the Gothic writing of the Bronte sisters, Edgar Allen Poe, and Wilkie Collins, the tragi-comic bildungromans of Dickens, and the despairing, gritty sagas of Hardy.

Although I occasionally write short stories (which never see the light of day), some time in college, I found I was most comfortable with the narrative non-fiction style, couched in research but anecdotal enough to hold the lay reader’s interest. It is this style that I write in even now, although increasingly people ask me to also write in that fashionable upstart genre of our era, i.e., the opinion piece. For me writing is a way to learn more about a subject that makes you captive, and you find you can hardly think of anything else till you have done your reading on it, spoken to the people who might cast light on the subject, and then written your own thoughts on the matter. Research is indeed a prominent part of my writing process because of the genre I prefer. Some of my most precious hours have been spent sitting in a library with a pile of books and archival material and my notebook open in front of me. A well-stocked library with adequate natural light soothes me in exactly the same way as Jasmine tea calms pregnant women.

For me writing is a way to learn more about a subject that makes you captive, and you find you can hardly think of anything else till you have done your reading on it, spoken to the people who might cast light on the subject, and then written your own thoughts on the matter.

I write because I must. An idea presents itself and then persists in its engagement of every recess of my mind and each thought therein. Then I know I must find out more and write. The ideas often arrive as questions, and then the need to arrive at a resolution becomes paramount. Sometimes, it leads to more questions; after all, often the best elucidations are in the form of queries. I also write because I enjoy crafting sentences. You might say some of us are suckers for the thrill of turning every word of that elusive ‘perfectly’ constructed sentence in our minds till the sun breaks through the overcast sky and voilà, we have it, or do we. Because it is equally true that we are never quite satisfied with our own sentences, no matter how consummately crafted they might appear for a moment. We are in the habit of writhing in bed as much in ecstasy as in intense envy reading other writers’ perfect sentences.

You might say some of us are suckers for the thrill of turning every word of that elusive ‘perfectly’ constructed sentence in our minds till the sun breaks through the overcast sky and voilà, we have it, or do we.

For me writing is a process that never pauses, never takes a break. My notebook is always with me, and I often pull it out to write down an idea, a sentence, a thought, or even a word. At times I have gone to ridiculous lengths to do so, lest I forget. Once in a crowded Metro compartment, for instance, I leaned my notebook on the back of an irate gentleman standing in front of me. I am happy to report that there are times I have left the house without my phone, but never without my notebook. I could end this self-indulgent piece by saying I write to make sense of the world, but frankly, and entirely in the Socratic sense, most of all I write to make sense of myself.

Arpita Das owns the Delhi-based independent publishing house YODA PRESS, which was co-founded by her in 2004. She also ran an indie bookstore called YODAKIN in New Delhi. 

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv